As such, when the 69-year-old shot the tap water up her nasal cavity, she essentially injected the brain-eating infection known as granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE).
A woman who met a tragic fate after routinely rinsing out her sinuses is thought to have died because she put tap water in her neti pot.
"When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball was bloody mush", Dr. Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center, where the woman was treated, told the Times. "There were these amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells".
"We didn't have any clue what was going on", he added. That tap water was filled with tiny amoebas that ate away at her brain cells.
As reported by the Seattle Times, a woman was admitted to a local hospital's emergency department after suffering a seizure in January. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a species of amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, one of the best-documented causes of such infections, is frequently present in fresh water, though infections are rare.
"She had not been boiling water, using sterile water or using sterile saline".
A year after the rash developed, the woman had a seizure.
The woman, who was 69 years old, died in February - roughly a month after doctors discovered the amoeba in her brain and about a year after she was initially infected. Although becoming infected is rare, Dr. Cobbs says people should always follow instructions and take precautions when using medical devices. Her doctor told her it was rosacea and prescribed an ointment, according to the report.
Rather than filling up the neti pot with saline or sterile water as is recommended she used tap water filtered through a store-bough filter, researchers found. "Often patients will think that using bottled water is fine and assume it is distilled, it that is actually not the case". Upon further investigation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention subsequently made a decision to test the water at a Texas surf resort he visited before getting sick.
The answer lies in a common instrument known as a neti pot, a teapot-shaped product used to rinse out the sinuses and nasal cavity.